Exclusive Interview with Pacific Book Reviews
Today we are talking to Facundo Raganato , author of “The Author – or – The Characters’ Short Living Story”.
PBR: This story has a very unique premise with the interaction between author, characters, and reader. What was the impetus for its design?
In the spiritual sense, “Trinity” would be one answer; yet, I wouldn’t like to emphasize on one angle of the story. In the literary sense, this was the perfect story to face the challenge of: ‘I want the Reader to be inside the story; literally.’ You know how people sometimes get the feeling of wanting to be inside the movie they are watching? I could say that one artistic impetus was to compose letters in way that frame the Door for the Reader, yet the letters themselves still present that they can enter only if they wish; as Morpheus says in one of my favorite movies: “I can only show you the door; you are the one who has to walk through it.” The Author upholds the principle that Art it is not only entertainment; He is against the modification of Literature to hook the reader to read; therefore, I was very careful to not lure the Reader in as writers normally try to do with techniques. Consequentially, some readers can sense a push and pull that its also part of the design. The Author only presents the “free will” to the Reader to enter and dig at their own extent . . . There is a transcendental experience (in many levels) for the Artist in the process of creating, as well the experience of the Audience, and of course, in this case, the characters themselves (according to the perspectives of the mind); hence, it took me a long time to draw the line between remaining pure to the writing, true to the Author and the Characters as they are, yet also give the Reader the space to experience the story “gradually” as the story “unfolds” in its “literary” sense. In the alchemical sense, there is a process in which the Reader goes through as he/she reads the story. I recommend to the Reader to read it three times, because the layers run so deep and the meanings could be completely revolutionized, depending on the eye of the mind . . . The design plays around the knowing/not-knowing sense. However, the composition involves many many others things I can’t really express through words right now. To conclude this magnificent question, only Readers know have journeyed the story hold the Key to enter the Alchemical Biblioteque, which will open December 25th at the official webpage:
In the personal level, I am very grateful and very giving, I thought that the least I could for someone who reads my work of art is to give them the experience to the fullest, especially with the purpose to reflect to them how important they are in this story. And then some more . . .
PBR: As a two-fold storyline, how difficult was it to incorporate the elements of both a fictional and philosophical playing field?
I think the “difficulty” is measured by how much energy I had to invest in order to break through the obstacles which kept me from reaching that goal. The 10-year journey with this book has been both a blessing and a curse. It has been a blessing with the fact that words and ideas naturally came to me in that “philosophical” spectrum, which many elements were given by the Characters themselves as well as by the Author through the story. I had the natural enjoyment of reading philosophical and literary texts for pleasure, so it kept me connected very organically when it came to creativity and the bridge into that philosophical playing field. I had to research, meditate and take classes in order to experience the elements in the context; hence, it has been a curse because sometimes it involved “dark” elements of the psyche. It has been a battle between the heart and the brain to keep a balance in order to efficiently deliver the aesthetics of Art through philosophy and spirituality, and vice versa.
PBR: This is a work that highlights individual paths toward discovery. Did you make any of your own personal revelations during the process of writing this book?
Indeed. I am still finding personal revelations to this day! How amazing is that! There are many metaphors and allegories in the story which reflect about my life. I remember who I was before I started writing the story, what I have been through while writing it, and then, who I am now . . . which makes me wonder: Who will I be? The Author ~or ~ The Characters’ Short Living Story is a Mirror, anyone is welcome to find themselves through it. It is not about the answers particularly, but the questions themselves. The story never changes; we change.Why do you believe it highlights individual paths toward discovery? . . .
PBR: Your web site is a great nexus to “The Characters’ Short Living Story” project. Do you see it as an important navigational tool to perhaps offer those unfamiliar readers a better understanding and appreciation of the metaphysical components of your work?
Thank you very much. Yes, but only at a certain level. The website provides clues and emphasizes meanings for the Reader to be more attentive to what they read. For example: “Letter to the Reader” is a presentation about ‘The Characters’ Short Living Story’ yet the meaning is different if you have read or if you have not read the journey yet. “Free Will” is just an interactive game, it resembles to one of the chapters in the story, it may be fun for those who like puzzles and mind games. “The Reader” is a blog about literature, philosophy, spirituality and Art which presents articles that are connected to various themes explored in the story. The poetry from The Characters or The Author like ~ Bottled Message ~ or “Pray” are branches that are still growing from this “Tree of Knowledge” the story contains. More like come.
PBR: There seems an underlying theatrical element in this story’s presentation. A provocative “Waiting for Godot” essence. Can you envision this work translating to the stage, with “The Author” directing his enigmatic questions to a live audience?
Yes, of course. I’m sure that just with the lamp, the six characters and the Author in the dark setting could inspire to create a very captivating, artistic and mind-blowing play. I am open to talk to artists who would like to make it happen. There are many ideas I would like to include for the theatrical version of the story, especially emphasizing on the alchemical experience with the audience . . .
I was inspired by the idea of taking this story to the theater when I saw “Birdman or the unexpected virtue of ignorance,” which is, obviously, a masterpiece. Ironically, there’s a scene where Riggan says: “People, they love blood. They love action. Not this talky, depressing, philosophical bullshit.” I found it spectacular how the director uses special effects to play with that line of “Reality/Illusion” and how he visually arguments about Entertainment and Art.
However, I think it would optimum to adapt the story into a film; the visual effects and the objective connection with the audience could lead to explore some serious creativity, especially with the freedom of the world that can be created in film. Can you imagine? The Retrospect Express? The Temple of the Mind? The Underworld?
PBR: With a mindful, intellectual, and imaginative eye, your “Author” as character/self appears to pay homage to Surrealist Rene’ Magritte. Do you see your literary style in connection to this artistic movement?
Let me clarify: Facundo Raganato’s style does not really exist for the minds of the Reader, the story is written with The Author’s style. However, the answer would be: Yes, The Author’s style is indeed connected to Magritte’s Surrealist movement. The story is very “surreal” in its own sense; however, he is not the only one I pay homage to . . . Magritte’s visual masterpieces play a lot with reality and illusion, there is no doubt the story plays with those themes, as well as the psychology, philosophy, the conscious and the subconscious. Perhaps the most direct connection is “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” because it makes the audience ask themselves: “Is it a Pipe? Is it not a pipe?” to extent of “Do you believe what you read?”
PBR: I love that you describe learning as your form of entertainment. In this lifelong process, what’s the most important question you’ve discovered that we should ask ourselves?
Hmm let me put it this way: we are all different, yet in our essence we are all the same as well. A question that is meaningful to me might not resonate with you in the same level. However, I think all questions are important, even questioning our answers; ourselves. Yet, perhaps the most simple and “unanswered” questions are the ones that paint the parameters of how you would answer to yourself; for instance: “Who are you? Why are you here? What are you doing? Do you think/believe you have a purpose? A mission? If so, what is it? Why? What are you looking for? Why? But these questions are only for you, do not think of the answers as if you had to answer to someone else, instead I’d say to follow the questions for you to truthfully understand yourself first, why you had the questions, why to the answers, from there, see how answering or questions from the other’s point of view works for you, it gets deeper then because it depends if you are more introverted than extroverted, the way you were raised, the state of the mind, the culture, the society, family, love life; factors that are too broad to say there is one way, one question. That is why they recommend meditation with oneself, because the sounds and influences of the world stop within that trance, and the mind can freely go into itself and listen to the source of its existence.
The inner true self of each of us knows the answers, “intuitively,” purely, with the soul, with the heart, especially when in tune with nature. The mind is an infinite powerful tool, it can create reality and the world we wish to built with logic and reason, with our conscience, yet it can also makes us think that we exist inside the box of those questions and answers; hence, it is a balance between being and not-being, being you and the other, feeling and thinking, order and disorder; that harmony presents itself in the synchronicity of energies with yourself, with those around you, with the world itself. Brace yourself, perhaps the most romantic and divine answer is the tragic irony that pushes to enjoy and seize the moments we live: you are going to die, but you know what? You are alive now, this moment, and the whole world is out there for you, you are all the freedom and power to do what you want, what you need, what you feel, so “What do you what? What do you urge to reach? Why?” are also very deep questions that makes us Think. On the other hand, stop asking yourself questions and go see that the answers will present themselves when you listen.
Keep in mind though; be aware to not fall into a blind self-conscientious cycle, where the “I” is the only point of view you mind can see, to empty the vessel of the self will allow you to always see new perspectives, and it is all thanks to the other, whomever the other is; the mind is a mirror, we have to reflect and teach ourselves to learn to see.
To narrow it down to one question, I think I would choose: “Why.” It is the question that will always make us go deeper, and will always ask about the essence of what you are asking, naturally one normally would try to go into the realistic perspective of the answer in a reasonable manner, but if we start answering in a metaphorical and perhaps “spiritual” manner, then new branches will start growing, even new questions.
I will finish this intense question with Bruce Lee’s words: “Empty you mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.”
PBR: Clearly your heart, soul, and spirit were invested in the decade-long preparation of this book. As a true seeker, what creative and philosophical endeavors are on the horizon for Facundo Raganato?
Indeed. I could say that the light inside that oil lamp could metaphorically symbolize my soul, heart and spirit in the story; that is how much this book means to me. Honestly, the journey of this book has always kept me intrigued and curious about philosophy, which has let me to not build a system of thought and feeling with myself, instead, incorporate what I have learned into a way of being more adaptable to all that life has to offer me; to be water, yet be true to my center. It has been 4 years now that I have not been impressed by new ways of thinking regarding philosophy, but that does not mean the questions do not come, and yes, I am still learning; for that very reason part of me is in a phase of deconstruction, to be less accustomed to think and more to feel. There could be no point to ask ourselves why we are here when you can love and be loved, wouldn’t you think? In the creative spectrum, there are worlds waiting for me to get busy, which many of them have bridges to philosophy and spirituality as well. I am taking my time because there are many roads in my horizon, and I want to be in tune with the choices I make.